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Conservative MP for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo (B.C.)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 52.20% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Committees of the House November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the Canada summer student job program is a critical piece. The member might not be aware, but in actual fact the budget for that particular program increased during the global economic recession and has stayed at that higher level. It involves many students and, as I indicated earlier, close to half a million dollars goes into many different ridings.
It is one piece of the puzzle, but it is not, by any means, the only piece. For example, all members of Parliament have a budget. I would encourage members to hire summer students for their own offices in the summer when they have the opportunity.
Again, it is an important piece of the puzzle, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle in dealing with the student summer job issue.
Committees of the House November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, as someone who has spent a number of years of my adult life representing rural communities, I have a very good appreciation for both the challenges and the beautiful benefits of living in rural communities. Child care is absolutely an important piece of that. Having licensed child care is important. However, someone may live 30 kilometres up the valley taking care of a farm, and a grandmother takes care of the children. The point is that we need a lot of different options, and we believe that parents are in the best position to decide them.
I also want to connect one other point. The government is setting the environment for success in rural communities. I always like to give examples, and an example is in Lac La Hache. It is is a very rural, very remote area. They have found a niche market in making pepperoni, and 60 to 80 people are employed in that niche market. What we, as a government, are responsible for doing is creating the environment for it to be successful, and that is what we plan to do.
Committees of the House November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I do not have the numbers in front of me, but one of the very important things we have done as a government is to provide funding for paid internships. I suspect in the member's riding a company is available that has been given the contract and is putting out the requests for proposals. I know it has been a very successful program across Canada in terms of paid internships moving people into longer-term jobs with the companies.
Again, I am not diminishing the fact that we are seized with the issue of youth unemployment. I think we are all seized with that particular issue, and one of the measures, of course, is the provision of paid internships.
Committees of the House November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I do not think there has ever been a government that has done more to support youth in apprenticeship programs. In the last budget, we made loans available for people on apprenticeship programs. We have support for their tools. We have measure after measure in terms of supporting apprentices.
It is also important to reflect on the fact that apprentices are some of the ones in the highest demand. There are very few people who enter an apprenticeship program and do not find work opportunities right away. Every week, when I get on the plane that goes from Kamloops to either Calgary or Vancouver, I would bet that one third of the passengers on the plane are heading up to the oil sands and that they have some sort of apprentice background.
Again, I do not think that there has been another government that has done so much for the apprentices of Canada.
Committees of the House November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand here and talk to this very important issue of youth unemployment and the important report that was put forward by the Standing Committee on Finance with a number of recommendations.
First of all, we need to put this into a framework of what the government has been doing and the very important work that we have been moving forward with.
I have three children in their twenties, and I remember that back in the nineties when they were quite young I used to think that the baby boomers were all going to retire, so that when my children finished university, finished whatever path they had chosen in their life, the world was going to be their oyster and that they would have many opportunities and, indeed, that there would be a shortage. That has not happened. We know there are some challenges for youth and we know our unemployment rate is higher than we would like it to be.
The government understands that it is important that we create the right environment for the economy to thrive, that we create the right environment for the job creators of this country to be successful and to create those jobs. It is ironic that the NDP members like to talk about their great concern about this issue, but every single measure, everything we do to support the job creators in this country, they tend to vote against.
For example, as we look at lowering the tax rates for our corporations, it is important to recognize that lower tax rates encourage growth. Money is international these days, there is international mobility, and we are encouraging job creators, groups like Tim Hortons, to come back to Canada.
First of all we need to look at the policies that we have in place, including around natural resources. Here again I would have to look at the New Democrats because I do not think there is a natural resource project that I have heard them support yet, especially for our aboriginal peoples. In Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, we have a mine that opened call New Gold, and as part of that mine opening, there were some job agreements created with the local bands that allowed for employment opportunities for their youth.
It is important that we have policies in place that support the job creators, whether regarding corporate tax rates or, more importantly, resource development policies whereby we get to a yes or no, so that companies will not have to spend 6, 8,15, 30 years before they get an answer about what are to be doing. That is one thing that we have focused on.
The government has played a role in terms of some of the more direct supports that we have put in place for aboriginal youth, youth with disabilities, youth in general. Here I would like to spend time talking about the different programs that are in place. Again, this means significant dollars. It is also important to recognize that the provinces and municipalities are our partners in these issues. We work in partnership with provinces and municipalities.
As for some of the important programs in place, we have to start when young. Some of the first work experiences youth have are as high school students. Maybe a first job is supported through our Canada summer student job program. It might be working in a camp, or with an engineering company, or many of those jobs. In the riding I represent, there is over $450,000 that goes into providing that experience for youth, often their first experience in the workforce. We have programs related to paid internships.
Again, we have a company that is thinking of the need to expand the number of people it has. With respect to those entry-level jobs, creating those positions and those paid internship is a hugely successful program that encourages our businesses to hire youth.
Some of the more powerful programs I have seen are through our skills link and opportunities programs. Sometimes we have youth who experience specific challenges in their lives. I will again use Kamloops as an example; however, in the 308 ridings across the country, there are many similar groups in place. In one case we have a program that is giving funding to support a group called ASK Wellness Society. It has people who have perhaps had issues with drug or alcohol addiction and have had a few challenges in their life, but who have decided to turn their life around. We know that part of supporting people in turning their lives around is to provide meaningful support and opportunities for jobs.
I can remember going to a particular announcement where we talked about the ongoing support for some of these programs, and the story of the youth who stood up. He talked about the bad path he had taken in his life, about getting clean in terms of his drug and alcohol addictions, and about the support he had in terms of the basic skills he would need to be successful in his future. He had that support, from federal government funding delivered through an agency in town, and was now gainfully and happily employed. He was pleased and very happy about the change he had made in his life. More importantly, he did not feel he could have done it without the support of the program that was available to him.
We also recognize that our aboriginal youth have an unemployment rate that is of particular concern. There is support for aboriginal youth, and also programs like the ASETS program, which not only provides aboriginal youth with some pre-employment skills but actual skills training.
Our human resources, skills and development committee had the opportunity to not only look at ASETS, but the strategic partnerships fund, which is where industry works with the communities and community groups to create jobs. It is an important opportunity for supporting aboriginal youth and the extraordinarily high unemployment rate there.
The last thing I want to reflect on that has been part of an ongoing dialogue in the House, and although not directly related to youth unemployment there is a link, is support for child care. I have said this before, and I will say it again. I will use the example of someone from a rural community, someone who has to work nights, maybe a young mother who is 17 or 19 and needs someone at home. To be frank, the child care spaces proposed by the NDP would not do her any good if she goes to work for a 7 p.m. to midnight shift. Those spaces are not available, though they might be great for a nine to five shift. I understand that recent research has shown that people with higher incomes tend to take more advantage of those low-cost daycare spots. We would put that money in her pocket, so that if she needs to hire a babysitter or an aunt to come to the house, she would have that flexibility.
The last point I would like to focus on is what we hear about the extraordinarily high costs of child care. However, what the NDP are neglecting to say is that every province in this country provides support for low-income parents. With the supported child care program, sometimes the parents are paying nothing. If they are on a low income or are a single mom, they might be on a program delivered through the provinces where their child care cost is appropriately subsidized.
This conversation has been a little misleading, first in the fact that there is some important support available for those on a low income. More importantly, the jobs that our youth have, and perhaps single mothers, are not necessarily Monday to Friday and nine to five. Our plan is going to provide the parent of a young child with $1,900 a month. In addition to that, we have to remember that they have support from a number of different sources. It will allow them to enter the market more viably.
In conclusion, we all agree that the youth unemployment rate is an issue. It is an issue that we need to be concerned about. We need to find important ways to match opportunities to the interests of our youth, and we need to create an environment, both for corporations to be successful and to give youth the skills through the important programs that I have already mentioned. Whether it is the Canada summer student job program, youth opportunities, or disabilities, we have many programs in place, and we will continue to ensure that we have an important focus on this area.
Child Poverty November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate on the private member's Motion No. 534, which was introduced by the member for Scarborough—Rouge River. I would like to thank her for tabling this motion, because it allows me to speak to the important things the government is doing to reduce child poverty in Canada.
We know that the best way to tackle child poverty is to improve the economic well-being of Canadians, especially those who are in poverty. Our approach is working. We are collaborating with the provinces and territories. We know we are at an all-time low. In fact, 225,000 fewer children are now in poverty than when we took office in 2006.
Our universal child care benefit is specifically aimed at supporting families with children. As the Minister of Finance just recently announced, an enhancement of that plan will benefit all families with children. Members might be aware that we are increasing the universal child care benefit, the UCCB, for children under the age of six. As of January 1, 2015, those parents will receive $160 a month for each child up until the age of 6. That is up from the $100 that is currently exists. That works out to $1,920 a year, which is a huge impact for those with low incomes.
We are also expanding the UCC benefit to children aged 6 to 17. Again, as of January 1, 2015, the expanded UCC benefit will see $60 per month for children aged 6 to 17. That works out to about $720 a year. This is a brand new addition to a very important program that, again, will help families with low incomes.
We are also increasing the child care expense deduction dollar limits by $1,000, effective for the 2015 tax year. The maximum amounts that can be claimed will go up from $7,000 to $8,000 for children under 7, from $4,000 to $5,000 for children aged 7 to 16, and from $10,000 to $11,000 for children who are eligible for the disability tax credit.
Our plan recognizes that there is no one size that fits all for child care for Canadian families. We are delivering real results.
I was in the child care licensing field for a short time. I recognized that in our rural communities, our shift workers needed many different options in how they responded to child care services. We have a plan that will deliver.
Another thing the NDP regularly forgets to mention is that families with low incomes in the provinces receive significant subsidies for their child care through provincial programs. This is regularly not spoken about. The NDP talks about what it costs, and it certainly a significant number of dollars, but what it does not talk about is how much the provinces subsidize those costs for the low income families.
Our Canada social transfer is providing an all-time high of $12.6 billion in 2014-15 to the provinces and territories. That is up from $8.4 billion under the last year of the Liberals. We are continuing to increase these transfers by 3% a year. This gives the provinces and territories the flexibility to address the elements of this motion that are in their constitutional jurisdiction. I have already alluded to the fact that every province provides significant support to low-income families for their child care.
We also provide billions of dollars in benefits to families with children through the Canada disability benefit, the national child benefit supplement and the child tax credit. In budget 2012, we introduced measures to support the well-being of our most vulnerable children, including supports and services for first nations schools and students, as well as proposed enhancements to the registered disability savings plans for the families of children with severe disabilities.
While the opposition is focused on trying to create more bureaucracy, we have actually been reducing child poverty to all-time lows. That said, we agree that the child poverty rate remains too high. However, our policies are working, especially the working income tax benefit.
Everyone in the House wants to tackle the issue. Our government is tackling this issue in a solid and sensible way, and we are making a real difference, rather than creating a significant bureaucracy, which perhaps the NDP is looking at.
The working income tax benefit is an incentive for low-income Canadians to get over the welfare wall. It encourages them to work by providing them with benefits the more they earn. The proof is in the numbers, which show that 1.5 million Canadians benefit. This has brought thousands of Canadians out of poverty.
We are working on many fronts to reduce poverty in this country.
I would now like to put some emphasis on the significant investments we have been making to facilitate access to affordable housing for low-income families.
We have been working in co-operation with our partners, the provinces and territories, to improve access to affordable housing. For example, since 2006, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, better known as CMHC, has invested more than $16.5 billion in housing. It is working with its partners.
We have helped 915,000 Canadians and their families, including Canadians with disabilities, recent immigrants, aboriginal people, and low-income families with children. Over the last few years, many facilities for families have opened in my own riding, providing important support.
Over the next five years, our government is going to continue to invest another $10.2 billion in housing to reduce the number of Canadian families who are in need of housing. These investments include $1.25 billion for a five-year extension of the investment in affordable housing agreement. CMHC is working with the provinces and territories on this.
There is another area in which we significantly differ. Our government knows how critical it is to work with the provinces and territories rather than to have a large federal government perspective. Every province and community is different in terms of their needs and what is going to work best for them. We work with a partnership strategy and look at local and regionally tailored housing solutions.
Our poverty reduction plan has been recognized throughout the world as one that works. The recent UNICEF report said that child poverty decreased during the last recession by 180,000. The president of UNICEF Canada had this to say about Canada's performance:
Canada is faring far better than other western countries. It is due to measures that are favourable to families, like tax credits, fiscal measures, and benefits that have been maintained or put in place to counter the effects of the global crisis.
We are proud that our plan is working, but we are not done until no children in Canada are living in poverty.
My hon. colleagues know that reducing poverty is not the responsibility solely of the federal government. It is a shared responsibility that requires the participation of multiple levels. That is why I mentioned that we are working hand-in-hand with the provinces with the significant Canada social transfer.
I am pleased to support today's motion, because as I have outlined, our government has a plan, a plan that is working. The proof is that fewer children are living in poverty today than when we took office.
Our comprehensive approach to addressing poverty works by increasing opportunities to get into the labour market and by contributing to strong, healthy Canadian families and communities. Strong economic stewardship is essential to Canada's success and to the welfare of our citizens, including our children.
Red Tape Reduction Act November 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate that point. It was said in jest to me a little bit earlier that the businesses would have preferred a two-for-one. Ultimately, that would get them down to no regulations.
What we do recognize is that there are some that are very important in terms of health and safety. Obviously, it does not preclude departments from looking at very outdated regulations as they go through the normal process and decide that some do not make sense anymore. Certainly, it does not preclude that, but it is a really great step in the right direction.
The more important piece is the focus on the actual regulatory burden, as opposed to just the numbers, so that we are really looking at how much workload a regulation creates.
Red Tape Reduction Act November 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we talked about how small businesses are the economic engine. I am going to give an example in my riding. It is Country Prime Meats, and it makes pepperoni sticks that go across Canada. It also has a bit of an international market for its product.
It is a very successful business but, to be frank, if it has to spend a lot of time dealing with issues that are not critical to operating its business and expanding the business, it really takes away from the success of the business and doing what is most important. I can use the Canada Revenue Agency and the My Business Account as an example of what has been an enormous support for this company in terms of being able to interact and ask questions online, and not having to spend inordinate amounts of time on the phone.
That is just one example of where they are now taking their time to focus on the expansion of the business.
Red Tape Reduction Act November 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to talk to the red tape reduction act. This legislation would enshrine our one-to-one rule in law.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Huron—Bruce.
Before I talk about this specific legislation, I want to take a trip down memory lane. I and a number of my colleagues in the House were privileged to be part of the Red Tape Reduction Commission. The commission's goal was to be transformative in how the government related to and worked with small businesses.
We all know how critical small businesses are to Canada's economy. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business told us how small businesses were being strangled in the red tape of federal, provincial and municipal governments. The commission provided us with the opportunity to focus on what was happening at the federal government level.
A number of people made up the commission, including a number of my colleagues in the House, as well as businessmen and people from across the country who had practical ideas.
We started this process in January 2011 and it concluded in March 2011. Over that period of time, we heard from people from all across the country. We had 15 round tables in 13 different cities. We received online submissions. We reviewed what other provinces and countries were doing and we reviewed what the experts had to say.
The commission had some clear goals. We wanted to reduce the administrative burden and improve government service. We wanted to enhance co-operation and coordination. We were looking to address the specific needs of small business. Small business owners are much more overwhelmed by the onerous needs that governments create as opposed to large businesses, with many different departments and the ability to mobilize somewhat more quickly. We were also looking at ensuring we addressed the cumulative burden. These were not the only things we looked at, but they were some of the critical things.
In September 2011, we presented a report that summarized what we heard. This report reflected on the different presentations we had received from people across the country.
We then spent a bit more time taking in what we had heard and looking at what other jurisdictions were doing. We presented another report in January 2012 to the government and that report contained our recommendations. The government then provided its response with a real commitment to move forward on a number of different issues.
We had 2,300 ideas and came up with 15 systemic proposals for the government to consider. They were very large in nature and crossed all government departments. We had 90 department specifics, such as a recommendation to Agriculture Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, and so on.
I remember one story I heard in Vancouver. A woman entrepreneur had left her job as a nurse and put her heart and soul into creating a product to help sick children. Somewhere in the process her product was reclassified from what was called a medical device to a consumer product. This had an enormous impact on her ability to move forward. It was a compelling story as to how we as a government could be more reflective of the needs of small business.
We were able to take it from that 100,000 foot level. It was a great privilege for me. At the time, I was the parliamentary secretary to the Canada Revenue Agency. There were a number of suggestions that came forward to the Canada Revenue Agency on what it might do to reduce the regulatory burden for small business. Telus wanted an online system, the ability for its accountants to get authorizations. Those were some of the things we heard.
We were very proud when the minister won the CFIB, Golden Scissors Award for cutting red tape. She took the recommendations that were specific to the Canada Revenue Agency, drilled down into them, and is in the process of making those changes that were suggested.
Today we are talking about one of the very important pieces that was one of the systemic suggestions that we made. This legislation would fulfill the commitment in October 2012, and was reaffirmed in the 2013 Speech from the Throne.
With this legislation, we hope to make it the law of the land that regulators strictly control the regulatory burdens that they impose on business. Under the one-for-one rule, for every brand new regulation that adds an administrative burden on business, one must be removed. This is smart legislation. It will help Canadian businesses become more productive and succeed in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace.
The red tape reduction act requires that regulators take seriously the requirement to control the amount of red tape imposed on businesses and the costs associated with that red tape.
As we went across the country, the one-for-one rule received a lot of reflection. We heard that more and more regulations were being added. The other thing we heard was that some regulations had more of a load on small businesses than other regulations. If we have a one-for-one rule, we need to reflect on what that burden to the business will be. It is not like we should take out something that is an easy regulation to comply with and put in something that will take hours and hours of the time of the small business.
We listened to that advice from small business owners from across the country and we reflected very carefully on that advice. That has been designed into the legislation.
The legislation challenges our regulators to think through how regulations can be designed and implemented in ways that do not impose unnecessary red tape on business. It is tough, but it is absolutely not inflexible. It can be applied in a way that will not compromise the protection of human health, safety, security, the economy and the environment.
That is another important issue. As we went across the country, many of the small businesses recognized that the government had an important role in terms of regulations, human health, safety, security, the economy and the environment. They appreciated government's role in that way, but they also wanted us to try, to the degree possible, to ensure we had that appropriate balance.
This legislation is also very timely. As we are looking to create a climate in which businesses can innovate and grow, too often red tape can get in the way. I mentioned an example earlier.
We have an economy that is important in how our small businesses contribute. There will be enormous opportunities with the European free trade agreement and the Korean free trade agreement. We want to support our businesses to be successful and to allow these new opportunities. They have to be as efficient and productive as possible.
The red tape reduction act is one way to help businesses to do just that. Enshrining the one-for-one rule in law recognizes that if Canadian businesses are to play their A game, we need to take away as many barriers to competitiveness as possible.
I am very pleased and privileged to have been a part of this process, the Red Tape Reduction Commission, the recommendations that we put forward and to move forward with both legislation and the many important changes that have been made in every department in government.
I look forward, and I hope that all members of the House will see fit to support this legislation.
Committees of the House November 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am very glad we are talking about this important issue as we come toward Remembrance Day.
I also looked at the report that was done by the veterans affairs committee, and I really want to congratulate the members on having a report that had the consensus of all parties.
The government, of course, responded to that report, and it is taking some immediate action on a number of the recommendations. It is also important to point out that some of the recommendations have a little more complexity, so it will take a little more work before we can actually move forward.
I would like the hon. member to talk about some of the action that has been taken already in terms of moving those important recommendations forward, and also a little about what the future is for some of the other recommendations.